US-Mexico tension over border death

On Dec. 30, a Border Patrol agent shot 20-year old Guillermo Martinez Rodriguez, a native of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, as he and his brother, Agustin Martinez Rodriguez, were fleeing back into Mexico. The brothers had sought to enter the US through the Zapata de Tijuana canyon but reversed course after being discovered by Border Patrol agents. An agent fired at them as they were returning to Mexico, hitting Guillermo Martinez with a bullet in the back near the wall separating Tijuana from San Diego. Agustin Martinez took his brother to a Red Cross facility in Tijuana, Baja California, where after 16 hours in intensive care and two operations, Guillermo Martinez died on Dec. 31. (La Jornada, Mexico, Jan. 2; AP, Jan. 4)

In a Jan. 3 phone interview, Border Patrol spokesperson Todd Fraser said an agent had “come under attack by an assailant who was throwing rocks.” The agent “fired back in self-defense,” Fraser claimed. Then, he said, the migrant climbed back over the fence and fled into Mexico. (New York Times, Jan. 4)

The killing unleashed a media firestorm in Mexico, forcing an unusually strong response from the Mexican government. On Jan. 2, the Foreign Relations Secretariat issued a statement condemning the use of force against migrants. The Baja California Attorney General’s office said it would ask US authorities for a prompt report on the shooting, and would ask the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General to investigate. (LJ, Jan. 3) In a morning press conference on Jan. 4, Mexican presidential spokesperson Ruben Aguilar called the shooting “very serious and absolutely regrettable,” a killing “which we cannot allow to occur.” Later on Jan. 4, President Vicente Fox Quesada promised to seek justice in the case. (Houston Chronicle, Jan. 5; LJ, Jan. 5) The Mexican federal Attorney General’s office has taken over the case from Baja California state agents, who determined Martinez was shot in the back at a distance of between six and 17 feet.

Border Patrol spokesperson Raul Martinez, based in the agency’s San Diego office, told AP that shooting victim Guillermo Martinez was “a known people smuggler who had been detained 11 times prior.” The Border Patrols San Diego office subsequently refused to comment on that statement and forwarded all inquiries to Washington, where US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael Friel said only: “We are fully cooperating with the San Diego Police Department’s investigation, and we are providing by their request any criminal or immigration records we have.” (San Diego Union-Tribune, Jan. 5) On Jan. 4, US State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack called the killing “tragic” and promised that the US government would respond via diplomatic channels to a formal note of protest sent by the Mexican foreign ministry.

The Border Patrol agent who fired the shot was apparently Faustino Campos, who is of Mexican origin. Nicholas Coates, a spokesperson for the Border Patrols San Diego office, confirmed that the bullet that killed Martinez was a 40-point hollow-point “dum-dum” bullet, designed to expand on impact. The use of hollow-point munitions, which cause much more severe hemorrhaging than solid bullets, is banned by international treaties. “All Border Patrol agents carry hollow-point bullets,” said Coates. (LJ, Jan. 5)

The Mexican Consulate in Laredo, Texas, is meanwhile pushing for a fuller investigation in the Dec. 14 drowning death of Carlos Martinez, a Mexican citizen who was swept into the Rio Grande (Bravo) near Laredo after his inner tube reportedly was flipped by the rotor wash of a low-flying Border Patrol helicopter. Martinez and a 15-year old companion were trying to cross back into Mexico following a confrontation in which Border Patrol agents allegedly used pepper spray. The incident “is still under investigation” by the inspector general’s office at the Border Patrol, said agency spokesperson Mike Herrera. (HC, Jan. 5) On Jan. 5 La Jornada reported another migrant drowning in the Rio Grande; the unidentified man’s body was found on the Mexican side of the river in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. (LJ, Jan. 5)

From Immigration News Briefs, Jan. 6

See our last post on the border crisis.

  1. A what?
    A “a 40-point hollow-point “dum-dum” bullet”? Obviously someone knows squat about firearms.

    First, “40-point” is completely meaningless. Bullets are not measured or categorized by “points”. Having seen the orginal articles, I know that what was meant was .40 caliber (please note the decimal point–it is not a 40 caliber).

    Second, hollow point and Dum Dum (note the use of caps) bullets are not the same thing. “Dum Dum” bullets are full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets with the tips cut off to expose the lead core. They are named after the Dum Dum Arsenal in Dum Dum India where they were made for the British. Dum Dum bullets do not have a hollow cavity and the modern equivilent are known generically as “soft point” bullets… bullets where the jacket does not cover the lead tip.

    “The use of hollow-point munitions, which cause much more severe hemorrhaging than solid bullets, is banned by international treaties.”

    This is a half truth. The use of expanding bullets with an exposed core or skiving/scoring of the jacket to enhance expansion are forbidden by one convention, the Hague Accords of 1899, from use in WARFARE. Such bullets are perfectly legal for use in law enforcement, personal defense, and hunting. Further, certain hollow points, often called open tip match (OTM) bullets, have extremely small openings and do not expand like their hunting counterparts. These OTM bullets only have an opening to facilitate moving the center of gravity further back, thereby better stabilizing the bullet and thus increasing accuracy. Such OTM bullets have been rule legal for warfare.

    1. U S Border patrol shooting…
      I do not like to see innocents get shot but I think that all the whining and crying from the Mexican side and from duel citizens pretending to be good Americans should be ignored.

      The US Border Patrol by and large bends over backwards to treat the illegal invaders with the utmost respect. Remember, the USBP is 40% hispanic. Even the Minutemen are a mix of races.

      The War on the border has nothing to do with race. It is about US law verses the lust for money, power, and the overthrow of the USA by those supporting open borders. The truth is the leadership of the people whining do not give a rats tail about illegal aliens, but rather have other agendas in mind. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and power.

      I have met them and know them ny their not for the press words and actions. They are anarchists, marxists (Communists), and screaming racists that want take over America or make a killing in drugs and slave trade.

      “Border Angels” for example. Doesn’t that sound angelic??? They are devils in fact. I met them with an open mind and now think they should be imprisoned. Their leader is Enrique Morones, who now runs “Gente Unida” (People United as in people that wish to overthrow the USA united, that is a fact not a guess). Enrique, a duel citizen, admits to serve the Red, White and Green” and hates white people. I have film on this. He is a Marxist and he serves the south side. He comes up here and causes trouble and has then been followed into Mexico where he reports. Wake up and smell the manure people.

      I have spent a fair among of time on the border. Even slept on the ground there just a day ago Jan 6, 2005. A miserable way to spend a cold friday night. I lerk and and have friends in every state that work for free protecting your interests along the border.

      What I see is a lot of fabricated lies coming from Mexico and their front men up here.

      Myself, my friends and the USBP have been repeatedly sworn at, stoned, and shot at by criminals on the south side of the wall, fence, and also have been agressively abused on the North side in the USA also.

      10% of those that cross into the USA are illegal and legal USA felons. Just about 4 days ago a murderer was caught in La Gloria canyon,Campo, CA where friends of mine have been camping since July 2005. Down the way in Smith canyon a while ago 19 were caught and 10 were US felons. Recently, right there in front of the Campo, CA Border Patrol station vehicles were set in the US from Mexico loaded to the gills with drugs. We have caught Mexican soldiers, seen Mexican feds cross into the USA at night. They threaten the residents. The whole border, even in California is a real challenge of wills. The USBP and civilians like myself against these horrible people that want to bring unregulated slave labor, sex trade slaves, drugs, and even slip Al Qaeda members into the USA.

      June 3, 2005 a USBP agent..a kid..was fired on 24 times (AK-47)and hit once in Tierra del Sol, CA. California Border Watch, a mixed race group of men and women who sit and watch calling the USBP when someone crosses into the USA, has had 10 shoots fired on them. They have had rocks Where were the whiners then? We have reapeatedly seen agents vehicles torn apart by large stones. Many times they run and sometimes they fire at or near the criminals.

      I used to report from the border unarmed however, I have purchased body armor, night vision and 6 firearms, since 2004, just to feel a little safer.